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Sad about the lack of shad

Published: Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 12:18 a.m. CDT
A local fisherman empties his net of shad and mooneye at the lower dam on the Rock River in Rock Falls. After a long, brutal winter, the population of shad – a popular bait fish – has plummeted.

Well, the last few years of incredible shad populations in the Rock River have sure come to a screeching halt ... thanks, Mother Nature. The long, brutal winter absolutely ravaged the shad numbers to next to nothing.

The last several years, I had been spoiled by the large numbers of shad. It was great hitting the river knowing you were just a few tosses of the net away from a day’s supply of great bait. But now it is a chore trying to round up 3 or 4.

Now, there is good news for those who, like me, really favor shad as their bait of choice. The shad that remained have spawned, and there is a purty darn good amount of young ‘uns out there right now. So now all we need is a mild winter, and we should have a solid population once again.

Now, another thing to consider is that a shad can spawn more than once, so if the summer stays warm enough for a long enough period of time ... that’s right, shad spawn, Round 2. That would be absolutely awesome, not only for those of us that like to use them for bait, but for the fish here that like them as prey.

So, long story short, all we got to have now is a little help from Mother Nature. Who knows, maybe we are due for a mild winter.

So here we are, the first couple days of August, and the Rock River is finally back to normal level. The water is a nice 75-76 degrees, most of the species of fish have spawned, and things are set for a great summer. Heck, even the Mississippi is quickly returning to respectable levels for the first time in many weeks.

The bite for a lot of fish has been picking up steadily over the last week or so, with reports of Mississippi crappies and walleyes really turning on. Here, the channel cat fishing has been great, and there has been a nice white bass run going on as well. So get out and hook into something over the weekend.

Yes, yes, yes, for the last time, I just gotta say it – it is officially squirrel season. Polish off the rifles and hit the woods. These last few mornings would have been perfect, with the cool dry air. But again, timing is everything, so we’ll see what early August has in store for us.

I’m also just a little curious for some of your input here. Have you all been seeing a bunch of deer this summer? I have seen more deer this summer than I can ever remember seeing during the hot months. I am tickled, but also cautiously optimistic, I guess you’d say. I’d just like to hear from some of you. Let me know what’s going on out there.

Until next week ... Go Catfish!

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